A Fate Worse than Death: The Last “Outsider” in Popular Culture – Disability
This a panel at the upcoming GeekGirlCon (August 11 and 12, 2012) and we hope to make it a fantastic panel with a lot of discussion. More than 1 in 10 Americans live with an apparent disability. But this isn’t reflected in books, comics, films or television (e.g. Less than 2 percent of TV show characters display a disability and only 0.5 percent have speaking roles). When seeking to include characters with disabilities, creators are asked, “Why?” There is greater acceptance when beloved characters are killed as opposed to maimed or permanently disabled; and celebrations when they are cured. It’s assumed that disability isn’t like diversity – it’s weird and different and uncomfortable and sad. Discussion will examine the reluctance to include characters with disabilities, common myths and stereotypes, and some of the common controversies using examples from popular and geek culture, personal experiences in industry and discourse with audience members. But we need you!
We want to hear REAL questions, hard questions! The panel is made up of folks with experience in film, comics, web-series, and more; and all of them have either included disability, have a disability, or been part of the battle for inclusion. What do you want to hear about? I’m posting this prior to the event to urge people to send me (the moderator) questions. There’s no guarantee we can get to all of them, but here is an opportunity to learn what really goes on behind the scenes, and as a community crowd-source ideas and solutions. So lets hear from you! Post in the comments or send me an email at DaysMail@gmail.com . If you prefer, I’ll even get on the phone with you, just call 206-333-1791.
Our amazing panelists:
TEAL SHERER – Teal Sherer is an L.A. based actor, producer, and activist for performers with disabilities. Her new show (which posts every Tuesday), is “My Gimpy Life,” a comedic web series produced by Rolling Person Productions, directed by The Guild’s Sean Becker, and written by Gabe Uhr. She was a founding member of Blue Zone Productions – a theatre company that promoted actors with disabilities, and played the role of “Honey” in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the NoHo Arts Center. Last year, she produced and starred in the Pulitzer Prize winning play PROOF, the first person with a disability to play the lead role of Catherine. However, most people may be familiar with Teal from her appearances in the third and fourth season of the award winning web series, “The Guild” as the recurring character “Venom” – a total bitch on wheels. Teal is a member of the SAG Performers with Disabilities Committee and teaches dance and drama classes to children with disabilities through the UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) Play Project.
LAWRENCE CARTER-LONG – Recognized for his expertise in the arts, access and media, Lawrence is a sought after media spokesperson on a wide variety of subjects ranging from medical ethics to media representation of disability. Appearances have included the New York Times, NPR, the BBC and several appearances on CNN, among others. Lawrence was founder and curator of the groundbreaking “disTHIS! Film Series.” Along similar lines, he has been a member of the steering committee of the ‘ReelAbilities: Disabilities Film Festival’ since 2010 and an advisor to NYC’s Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts as part of their Disability in Entertainment and Arts Link (DEAL) project since 2006. In May 2011, Lawrence began working with the National Council on Disability – an independent federal agency that recommends federal disability policy to the President, Congress and other federal agencies – as their Public Affairs Specialist. Lawrence curated and will be presenting a selection of films showcasing the history of disability in cinema on cable systems for Turner Classic Movies in October 2012.
LIZ HENRY – Liz Henry is a poet, translator, blogger, and editor as well as a computer geek and web developer. She has been publishing zines and small books since 1986. For Aqueduct Press, she edited WisCon Chronicles Volume 3: Carnival of Feminist SF. Her latest book is Unruly Islands, a collection of anarchafeminist technoutopian poems.
GAIL SIMONE – Gail Simone has written Simpsons comics for Bongo, Killer Princesses for Oni Press (with co-creator and artist Lea Hernandez), and a Rose and Thorn limited series for DC Comics. Simone is the creator of the Women in Refrigerators List, which raised awareness of the treatment of women in comic books. In 2003, she took over DC’s Birds of Prey title, turning it into one of DC’s steadiest selling and most critically acclaimed books. In 2007, she took over writing duties on Wonder Woman. Additionally, Simone’s commitment to creating diverse casts of characters led her to win a Glyph Comics Award for Best Female Character in Thomasina Lindo—one of the lead characters in Welcome to Tranquility—a creator-owned comic published by WildStorm. She returned to writing the Birds of Prey series for DC Comics and can be followed on Twitter (@GailSimone) or her Tumblr, “Ape in a Cape.”
DAY AL-MOHAMED – Okay, they’re the REAL panelists, I’m just moderating. 🙂 But for those of you interested – Day Al-Mohamed is editor for the upcoming anthology, “Trust & Treachery” and hosts the multi-author blog Unleaded: Fuel for Writers. She is an active member of the Cat Vacuuming Society of Northern Virginia Writing Group, and DC Women in Film and Video. When not working on fiction, Day is Senior Policy Advisor with the U.S. Department of Labor, heading up the Add Us In initiative, and as a part of the agency’s Youth Team she is designing a skills-based video game to better teach the Department’s “Skills to Pay the Bills” employment training curriculum. Day is proud to serve as Public Affairs staff officer with Flotilla 24-01 in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and lives in Washington DC with her wife, in a house with too many swords, comic books, and political treatises.